Colin Kaepernick knows that food insecurity is an issue of human rights, poverty and racial justice. It’s also a problem that is getting worse because of COVID.
If any other football player donated thousands of meals in a time of historic food insecurity, he would not just be hailed as a hero on SportsCenter, he would be in immediate contention for the Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award.
But not Kaepernick.
According to the Alliance to End Hunger, around 13 percent of American households are food insecure. But households of color make up a disproportionate amount of this percentage. While nearly 10 percent of white families are food insecure compared to 21.5 percent of non-white families.
These numbers were taken before the spread of the coronavirus, which Feeding America expects will exacerbate the issue of hunger in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Food insecurity is also visible among class lines, affecting low-income households.
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Coronavirus has also disproportionately affected people of color and the poor. Food, and access to healthy options, are becoming harder for some to purchase as more people get sick and the national unemployment remains high.
The toxic combination of sickness and economic ruin has created a growing disaster for families’ food security. Which makes today’s statement by Kaepernick all the more relevant.
On Friday, Know Your Rights Camp, Kaepernick’s organization, donated 4,500 Impossible patties to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
In partnership with the plant-based burger company, Kaepernick hopes to eventually feed one million people.
Recent winners, like J.J. Watt, raised millions after the Hurricane Harvey environmental disaster. And Chris Long helped bring clean drinking water to underdeveloped countries.
Without question, both athletes deserved the award. But Kaepernick’s philanthropy, too, is another example of an NFL player using his platform to serve the vulnerable, especially in a time of desperate need.
Kap’s service also comes at a time when the federal government is reducing unemployment benefits and fighting over food programs for their next economic relief bill. These are the people tasked to provide the basic necessities for their constituents. Clearly, Kaepernick had no problem providing resources himself.
The place Kaepernick distributed the food, Los Angeles County, is one of the hardest-hit coronavirus hotspots in the country.
Even before the pandemic, the area long struggled with hunger.
In 2015, the Los Angeles Public Health Department found that 561,000 households were food insecure. 217,000 households were very food insecure. These citizens did not have access to nutritional food and, according to the study, thousands did not eat on a consistent basis.
LA County has not released food insecurity statistics for 2020. But don’t be surprised when, unfortunately, the numbers go up.
A former Super Bowl-contending QB is giving healthy food directly to people in need while the NFL publicly celebrates its current and former players for their commitment to COVID-19 relief.
But, of course, Kaepernick is not on that list — and don’t expect him to be.
We know the QB will sit and wait for a call that will likely never come, all while quietly taking part in an activity most NFL players would be lauded for.